1. Can you tell our readers a little about you?
I grew up in Houston, where I might have been kidnapped by bridge trolls and sewer alligators and then traded back for control of local water interests. At the tender age of 119 I began writing my first novel, which has since disappeared into the bowels of my closet, never to be seen again. After college I sold my services to a witch, and we spent four years living in Italy, righting wrongs and drinking too much espresso. Eventually I moved back to Houston and started selling off organs to support a ridiculous life decision: Becoming a full-time novelist.
2. How do books get published?
Normally, an absurd amount of luck and serendipitous timing. My books, however, were published out of defiance. After six years of (somewhat rightful) rejection, I decided to take the plunge and publish them myself.
3. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
If it's a nice day, I love to sit outside and read. I'm also an avid bachata dancer, which you wouldn't think by looking at me.
4. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Scammers and unscrupulous companies or individuals who prey on them by offering fake or expensive services. I'm always wary of unsolicited emails, because they often turn out to be someone offering a "great service" for a high price. Always, always Google the person or company first.
5. What’s the best way to market your books?
By keeping an open mind. Some of the best responses to my work have come from Tumblr, a social media site that I never expected to pay much attention to. I've found readers, promoters, and beta readers on the site.
6.What did you edit out of this book?
Mostly side chapters that I enjoyed, but that didn't serve the main plot or any subplots. I kept them in as long as I could, but there comes a point in the editing process where you have to be brutal.
7. How do you select the names of your characters?
What's in a name? A lot, as it turns out. For my main characters, I usually rely heavily on the meaning of the name and how pleasant or easy it is to say. But the name also has to fit the character. Have you ever met someone and thought, "Yeah, she looks like a Brittany," or "He's such a Greg"? I use the same concept. For background characters, it's usually more random because my work tends to have a lot of them. One last detail to consider is whether a name fits the culture/time period of the character.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Always. Some are more obvious than others, but I love to sprinkle in little Easter Eggs whenever I can. Often, they'll be clues that foreshadow certain events or revelations.
9. Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
I try to add as much genuine diversity to my books as possible. My first two are set in NYC, which is an incredibly diverse city, so the characters needed to reflect that without becoming stereotypes or tokens. The characters cross ethnic, religious, gender, and orientation lines, and I tried to do as much research as I could on any aspects that I wasn't familiar with. Was I perfect? Of course not. But if writers were to only stick to "what they know," as the old adage goes, then the literary world would become such a dull place. The trick is to be diligent, respectful, and open to learning.
10. Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
My website (https://kelseyclifton.com) is a great starting place! I'm also on most forms of social media like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.